Wanted: Researchers of Many Talents

Jean Chabod-Serieis, Translated by Nina Fink
Publié le
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Laboratoire Aguettant de Lyon Gerland.
Small businesses are increasingly recruiting researchers in order to create highly innovative products. // ©  Stéphane Audras / R.E.A
In France, researchers are increasingly turning to private sector employers. While R&D remains their main job market, other departments are also interested in hiring them, provided they are willing to stretch in new directions.

There have been more French researchers in the private sector than the public sector for almost 15 years. Researcher hires have risen by over 26% since 2008 in the private sector but by only 5% since 2010 in the public sector.

According to Vincent Mignotte, Executive Director of Association Bernard Gregory (ABG), which places recent PhD graduates, "small businesses are increasingly recruiting." They turn to researchers in order "to create highly innovative products. Researchers can reformulate questions and identify new problems and perspectives, thanks to their PhD training." These skills are prized by private and public organizations alike.

"researchers can devise new, creative solutions"

Fabien Imbault is the Managing Director of Évolution Énergie, a software company with 12 R&D researchers on its staff of 25. "We recruit physics, IT and applied math PhDs. We hire researchers rather than engineers because they can devise new, creative solutions," he says.

Juliette Longin, Head of the Medical Excellence Team at Merck France, notes, "We don't have a R&D department. PhDs are recruited by our medical affairs and marketing departments. Some candidates have second or third PhDs in epidemiology or applied statistics in clinical studies. Others add Master's degrees in health economics. Employers really value those combinations."

Working outside of R&D comes with certain expectations. Longin cites "managerial duties, planning, strategy implementation, project management and communications. Our recruits have to be ready to take on new responsibilities." Open-minded candidates ready to work in a new environment outside pure research are highly valued.

there are barriers to overcome on both ends

ABG prepares researchers for private sector hiring. Mignotte says, "We teach them approach employers, research and contact companies, network and set salary goals. It's a challenge for PhDs whose research labs didn't work with many manufacturers."

Candidates aren't alone in facing cultural barriers. Mignotte explains, "If an SME has never hired PhDs, they won't think to hire one. What's more, they may have trouble finding PhDs with the right skills since they aren't familiar with public research. So there are barriers to overcome on both ends."

Read the article (in French)

Jean Chabod-Serieis, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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